Mar 30 2017
I love preaching through books of the Bible, mostly because I know exactly what I’m preaching on week to week. But sometimes this approach presents interesting challenges, and I found one this week.
What’s the challenge? Luke 3:23-38. Go ahead and look it up if you want, but I’ll give you a hint as to what it’s like: “Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about 30 years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai…”
If you ever want to give you spell checker fits, type a sentence full of old school Bible names.
Anyway, that same pattern goes on and on for 16 verses. 16 verses of names. Hard names. Weird names. Duplicate names. It’s hard to remember which line you’re on when you’re reading them because they all look the same.
Preaching a genealogy is hard, and reading a bunch of names sounds like it might be boring, so I guess we can just skip over that part, right? Let’s stop and think about that for a minute. Luke was a pretty careful author working with a finite amount of writing space. For him to give up a fair chunk of it to a genealogy isn’t an accident: it’s a choice.
What’s more, we believe that all Scripture is God-breathed and useful. If the Holy Spirit inspired the writing of this book, then the genealogy is there for our benefit.
What could that benefit be? Take a look through the names and you’ll see some notable characters from the Old Testament. David. Jesse. Boaz. Jacob. Isaac. Abraham. Noah. Adam. That’s a pretty notable family tree.
One of the projects my dad’s been chipping away at for years is to trace our family’s lineage back through the generations. He’s made pretty good progress: we know names, approximate dates of birth and death, and even some of the life circumstances, like what caused a young couple from Ireland to get on a boat and make their way to Canada.
And while the names of the people in my family tree are far less noble than the ones in Jesus’ family tree, there’s benefit in knowing exactly where I came from. I know that I’m part of a bigger story. I can see the way my family has been shaped through time and circumstances. I get a glimpse into my own personality and my way of processing the world that has been handed down in my DNA.
That’s worth something.
Jesus didn’t need to know who his ancestors were because, as Luke points out, he wasn’t actually in Joseph’s bloodline at all. But being born into Joseph’s family wasn’t an accident. It’s where God wanted him to be. It connected him to a larger story, which also happens to be the one that he was responsible for writing.
That story is the same one you’re part of. Your story, like Jesus’ story, stretches back through the generations, all the way back to the Garden of Eden, and to God himself, who formed you in your mother’s womb. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, created in the image of God and called to be part of his kingdom.
You’re part of something significant, and you have a role to play.
The question is whether you believe that’s true and what you’re going to do about it. So why not come out on Sunday and find out? As a side benefit, you’ll also get to watch me try to work my way through a long list of Bible names, which will be terrifying for me but hilarious for you. But more than that, you’ll get a chance to join in our mission to proclaim the good news of the gospel of Jesus.
I hope to see you there.